Reply To: Open for Debate

  • Charles Rykken

    December 22, 2023 at 3:52 am

    I see this is not going as you had hoped. Dr. McGilchrist in TMAHE spent much time on extolling the wisdom of ritual and other ways to communicate with the laity within the Catholic Church.. I have been very enthusiastic in my interest in religion since I was seven years old. My take has been consistently right brain in that I really had no time for theology. I believed then, as a seven year old (1955), that the message of Jesus was a message to the heart. I grew up in a small (pop ca 3000) town in North Dakota. I read Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn at that time and was in full agreement with Mark Twain that the vast majority of parishioners were hypocrites. This set up a dichotomy for me from the beginning of the difference of a genuine spiritual sensibility as opposed to an allegiance with a church. When I was eight my father used the following analogy to exemplify the importance of being honest with one’s self. Imagine yourself on an open plain(This was very easy to do in the area of North Dakota where I lived) where you can see all the way to the horizon with great clarity. Then imagine that when you tell yourself a lie you plant a tree. The tree(lie) obstructs your view so that not only do you see the lie but you fail to see the truth that is covered up by the tree(lie). If you tell yourself enough lies you end up in a forest of lies where you can’t see any truth at all. That is you become lost in a forest of lies. That analogy terrified me and I made a sacred oath (one of less than ten such sacred vows I have made in my life, almost all before the age of eighteen) that I would never knowingly lie to myself. I went to all the churches in my small town to see the differences. There were only about six or seven. They were all protestant except one Catholic church. More than 80% of the inhabitants of this small town(Tioga) were of Scandinavian descent and so all but one of the churches besides the Catholic church were some variety of Lutheran church. My best friend at the time came from a Catholic family so we went together to see if I could attend a service at the only Catholic church in town. The priest of the church told me he would not allow me to attend unless I converted to Catholicism. That was a non-starter for me since that would require me to lie to myself. I have never attended a Catholic service. When I was twelve and moved to a larger town (Williston) with a quite large public library(maybe 50,000 to 100,000 books) I began to study Hinduism. I read “The Autobiography of a Yogi” as well as “The Third Eye” by Lobsang Rampa. See for details as well as a free pdf of his book. I had grownup in a family of serious physical violence, almost entirely from my mother and my elder brother. My youngest brother committed suicide when he was only nineteen years old and I very nearly did the same on the winter solstice of 1977, two months after my twenty-nineth birthday. That was one of the occasions where I took another sacred vow that I would not commit suicide no matter how screwed up the world got. Although I do consider myself to be very sympathetic to the soul of Christianity, there are very few Christian organizations with which I would care to associate. One example would be the Quakers. I see hierarchy as a road to authoritarian rule. I also see it as an enemy of reason as there is a credo and liturgy(theology or left brain horseshit about God). I see the Nicene Creed as an example a of stupid mind fuck by the Roman Empire. Almost all of the protestant churches adopted the Nicene creed. That is why I see the so called Protestant Reformation as pure bullshit. The Nicene Creed was a creation of the Roman Empire to enslave the minds of the people. You should read “The Gnostic Gospels” by Elaine Pagels.

    It goes into the early history of Christianity. You see, I see the dark side of human nature because of my early experience with violence and my adherence to self honesty. I see many people who want to lord it over other people for nefarious purposes. Nagarjuna, the second Buddha, never started his own school nor did he associate his name with any school at his time. There is the statement that unless you become as little children you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven and later says that the kingdom of heaven is among you. Also the bible says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them”

    The idea of community is held sacred among all the wisdom traditions but it is also true that where you have community you have various varieties of thugs and bullies. This is the dark side that few want to confront honestly. I believe it is the fear of death that holds such “spiritual” communities together and the thugs who run the scam know that and use it to their advantage. I have tried to associate myself with a few religious communities(never the Catholic Church) but the inevitable politics and bullies ascending to leadership positions have left me with very deep skepticism as to whether it is possible to have a genuinely honest group of people have a shared spiritual practice. One of the major blocks is how the left brain wants to create a credo and liturgy that is aimed at stifling open discussion. Part of that problem is the ugly fact that it is likely that only one in a thousand people have a chance to be be able to converse on such deep topics. As Dr. McGilchrist has pointed out, most of them (The one in a thousand who are able to have deep philosophical discussions. For the record I am 1 in 6,300 in IQ and 1 in 1,000 in openness to experience, both of which, I believe, are prerequisites to a deep discussion of philosophical topics)) have been co-opted by left brain capture, primarily mechanistic materialism. The Zen Buddhists who eschew all talking are guilty of falling into the bully trap as is shown by Brian Victoria in his books “Zen at War” and “Zen War Stories” This tendency of cowardice and wanting to suck up to the top dog is a deep seated flaw in the human character. It does not end well. The Quakers have tried their best to not allow anyone to bully anyone else and that is why I admire them most among all the Christian practitioners.